Since breaking through the Aussie electro scene four years ago by winning a Beatport competition with a Flume remix, Cosmo’s Midnight have retained a powerful stance amongst a world heavy with new and talented producers.
Bastions of the quality over quantity ideal, twins Cosmo and Patrick Liney have dominated their niche despite sporadic, albeit highly considered releases. The latest fruit of their intensive labour, a single named History, drops today. We caught up with the two Sydneysiders to hear their thoughts.
Pushing bouncy house as colourful as the outfits they regularly wear, Cosmo’s Midnight are quickly becoming the gold standard for Australian dance producers.
HAPPY: Thanks for coming along guys. How are you?
PAT: I’m good.
COSMO: Just went to the beach today, pretty sunburnt actually. I’m crispy right now, but the water was so nice.
HAPPY: Which beach?
HAPPY: Good stuff. So the first thing I want to ask about was the US tour you guys knocked out last year. How was it?
PAT: That was actually our first time going to America or even flying that far, so it was a pretty intense experience. Also the day we flew out there was a shooting scare at LAX, but it was actually really good. Really validating.
COSMO: To go there finally and see that we had such a good following. The time that we waited getting visas and that stuff felt paid off.
PAT: We had visa issues for like six months. We were meant to go in March with Wave Racer but that fell through. I think it’s generally pretty hard to get a working visa in America.
HAPPY: And as a musician…
PAT: Well yeah as a musician they’re like ‘what is that?’
COSMO: They think you’re trying to steal American money.
PAT: Yeah the process was really arduous but once we got there it was great.
HAPPY: How many shows was it?
PAT: I think it was 14?
HAPPY: So a really good stretch.
COSMO: Yeah, but I mean America’s huge. You could do 50 shows in America if you wanted to but compared to six or seven in Australia…
HAPPY: The famous ‘East Coast Australian tour‘.
COSMO: Yeah exactly.
PAT: Even in California you could do eight or ten shows.
HAPPY: What were the crowds like over there?
PAT: Pretty similar I think. West Coast life is pretty similar to Australia.
COSMO: Yeah they really respond to our sound.
PAT: And Austin, Texas was really great too. It’s this big musical capital, there’s a huge statue of a guitar at the airport so they know what’s up. There were actually a lot of Aussies at every show and I kept thinking ‘where are you coming from?’
COSMO: They find a way.
HAPPY: Wherever you travel to, there will always be an Aussie at the bar.
PAT: Yeah! Like for example we went to Japan two years ago and played a club with 100 people max. At the bar were these two really rowdy people and yep, they were from Sydney. It was like we weren’t even in Tokyo.
HAPPY: There’s a pretty huge electronic scene in Tokyo isn’t there?
PAT: Yeah it’s on the up. The thing with Tokyo is there’s so many people in such a small area that even niches can become big.
COSMO: And the fans are super fanatic.
PAT: I actually got some fan mail this morning from Japan. I’ve got a picture (grabs his phone) it’s covered in stickers and shit.
HAPPY: That’s so cute. That’s ridiculous.
COSMO: It had a Hello Kitty card in it.
HAPPY: Think we can source that?
HAPPY: So you guys got your start right as streaming and streaming culture was becoming huge. Now there’s still some huge artists who keep ragging on streaming…
COSMO: On streaming?
PAT: What complaints are they making?
PAT: It feels like there’s been a switch now so instead of music supporting your shows, now you make most of your money on advertising, merch and the shows. That’s the change that’s happened, it used to be record sales…
COSMO: And record sales have shifted onto streaming now.
PAT: Even platinum certifications now are taking streaming into account, so when you see Rihanna’s album go platinum it wasn’t purely sales.
COSMO: I think it’s great though.
PAT: Yeah we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without it.
HAPPY: Right? And so many other artists, especially producers are in the same boat.
HAPPY: Now this year actually looks like the year is going to –
PAT: Probably die?
HAPPY: No, come under new ownership. Right now Google has their eyes on it.
PAT: I feel like if Google bought it, they might be able to fix it.
COSMO: The thing about Soundcloud is that it wants to exist but it has so much pressure to become a monetised streaming service…
HAPPY: If you guys owned Soundcloud what would you do?
PAT: I really like that it’s collaborative.
COSMO: I’d keep it that way too. With Spotify you can’t put up stuff like fun little edits, but Soundcloud has always been about the culture of redoing stuff and that’s been a licensing issue. If I owned Soundcloud I’d make sure money went to the right musician – I think Mixcloud has that? You’d also need to monetise it properly.
PAT: Yeah it’s been struggling with that.
HAPPY: Well Soundcloud Go is a clusterfuck.
COSMO: The idea that you can put up ten seconds of a song… nobody’s going to buy that.
HAPPY: Jumping on to your aesthetic, you obviously devote a lot of attention to it with a clear cut fashion sense and a distinct formula for cover art. Was that something you considered from the start of your careers or did it become more important?
PAT: Well we’ve both been studying art our whole lives so we’ve been invested in that for a while. I’ve also always been big into anime and manga.
HAPPY: That’s where your Japanese influence comes from?
PAT: Yeah and going to Japan to see that was unreal. The thing is, for the EP and the last two singles my friend introduced me to Bahi JD and that was a perfect fit for us. Now that we’re coming onto the new single we want to start a new cycle.
COSMO: Show something different.
PAT: Like an evolution of the idea. I’ve been really big on Matisse’s work, especially his one line art. So we put out this call on the internet saying we were looking for someone who could do that manga, anime style crossed with Matisse. We got a message from our friend saying his housemate did that exact style. It’s so niche, it’s amazing. Her name’s Charlotte Mei. We hit her up and she said she knew our stuff so it worked out.
HAPPY: And that’s the cover for History?
PAT: Also cause it’s just fun.
HAPPY: I was told once that especially for producers, if anything a bit of theatre and expression is more important.
PAT: Yeah, you’re not singing or anything like that.
COSMO: They don’t know who you are, or your personality, so it’s good to show people that in the way that you dress or how you talk to people on the internet.
HAPPY: Well on the internet I did a bit of digging… apparently Cosmo and Paat’s Soundcloud is empty these days?
PAT: I think someone actually made that account, because I didn’t make it.
HAPPY: Wait really?
PAT: Yeah we deleted that account.
HAPPY: There’s a picture of you and everything. Just no tracks.
PAT: Yeah, it’s weird.
HAPPY: Fortunately though there’s still a few up on Youtube.
PAT: We were like 17 when we were doing Cosmo & Paat, so it was very fresh faced.
COSMO: Yeah we did that from high school, maybe from 16 to 19 we just made what we were listening to at the time.
PAT: Made everything from prog house to dubstep.
HAPPY: I was gonna hit you with a couple of tracks, and you can tell me how they shape up today.
PAT: Oh (laughs).
HAPPY: BMO. Is that an Adventure Time reference by the way?
PAT: Yeah, I was super into Adventure Time then. That one felt like a bit of a turning point because there’s a couple of sound design choices that I can say are more similar to what we do now.
HAPPY: That’s why I thought that track was interesting; it’s the closest Cosmo & Paat got to Cosmo’s Midnight.
PAT: The wavey, konky chords, yeah.
COSMO: It was a turning point too for production quality. I thought in terms of sound design is was well mixed. I had some other songs in there…
HAPPY: The next one I listened to was Sapphire.
COSMO: That’s like a prog house track, I like that track still!
PAT: Yeah I still like it, it’s technically competent and I have a soft spot for that kind of music. I’m very generous with the kind of music I listen to, I’ll listen to Katy Perry, then John Coltrane, then –
COSMO: I don’t mind some Skrillex.
HAPPY: Cause there’s a Bangarang remix in there.
COSMO: I really don’t know why we did that. I don’t think we even liked it.
PAT: I hate that one, actually.
HAPPY: That one was reposted the most!
PAT: Yeah we were listening to Dillion Francis and thinking dubstep was the best, but turns out dubstep is definitely not the best.
COSMO: It was not.
PAT: But when you’re young and impressionable you like loud stuff.
HAPPY: Thankfully your new track doesn’t take the same nods. History is coming out in two days, are you nervous?
PAT: I always get a little bit nervous on release days because we spend a lot of time making a track. It’s basically been one single a year so we really like taking our time.
COSMO: I’d rather put out a song a year than a song every couple of months.
PAT: Doing a bootleg of what’s hot right now isn’t our thing.
COSMO: I do want to get into writing more projects though – like bodies of work.
HAPPY: A more collective sort of thing like an album?
COSMO: I think people appreciate seeing a collection of your ideas.
HAPPY: A lot of producers are moving away from albums, which is a little disappointing.
PAT: People are scared of albums, but I love albums.
COSMO: Oh there’s nothing better! I love the experience of sitting down and getting, end-to-end, ten tracks. The way artists put together track orders, interludes and intros… it’s so much better than listening to one song.
PAT: Albums aren’t dead, it’s been proven that they work. Flume, Rüfüs… and even if they weren’t popular I’d still want to do one just because the core mechanics of it. The trouble is you can’t rush it, it’s hard.
HAPPY: Despite being just a single, it’s still so emotionally charged. Did that come from you or the vocalist, or a combination?
PAT: What happened was we were staying in Melbourne for our birthday in July and had a session lined up, forgot about it a bit and then had a really rough night. We woke up and remembered it, that taxi over was just a battle trying not to vomit. By 2pm we were writing, really feeling this one song we had started and she did it in one take.
HAPPY: And it’s just a single release? Not a part of any forthcoming work?
PAT: I want to say that this year’s the start of a new cycle.
COSMO: A new beginning, and we really found a song we’re happy with, to push forward with. It feels really mature.
PAT: Yeah it feels like we’re building up to something exciting with this, but we’re not there yet. Maybe an album, but we haven’t decided. We’re talking about it.
HAPPY: An album is the end goal though?
COSMO: It always has been.
PAT: We’ve been writing ideas forever so we have a huge backlog of stuff to draw from.
HAPPY: Well, looking forward to it. Thanks so much guys.
PAT: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Cosmo’s Midnight will be touring Australia in March and April in support of History. Catch the run of dates below:
Friday, March 17 – Newtown Social Club – Sydney
Friday, March 24 – Howler – Melbourne
Saturday, March 25 – The TBC Club – Brisbane
Friday, March 31 – Hooch – Mandurah
Saturday, April 1 – The Monastrey – Fremantle
Saturday, April 8 – Fat Controller – Adelaide